Wednesday, October 31, 2007


In celebration of the centennial of The MacDowell Colony—the oldest creative artists' residency program in the United States— the work in progress of Aviva Kempner's "Yoo, Hoo, Mrs.Goldberg" will show.

Kempner will be there to introduce the film at 4:30 pm and answer questions. FREE

National Gallery Audiotrium in the East Wing

4th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565

Who needs FEMA fake press conferences if the newspapers are going to package things anyway? Notice how after the Democratic debates the pictures the next day only show Clinton and Obama. This is just a sneaky way to make the public think they only have a choice between Pepsi and Coke. Oh, and who is placing those anti-Venezuela articles everywhere all of a sudden? With Castro out of his bed, its back to listening to Hugo's head. Soon Caracas will be linked to bombs being made in Iran.
Go figure. Folks are beginning to translate all problems into Spanish and Arabic.
Will there be Moor(s) in the future?
John Edwards in 2008:

A demonstration in support of the Jena 6. It takes place at the Justice Department building, 9th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, starting at 5 pm on Wednesday, November 7. People can contact or 202-544-3389 if they want to volunteer to help publicize the event.
I thought I heard Joe Ross say:

Friends -

Today, I went to the American University Museum to
pick up the first copies of CUT LOOSE THE BODY: An
Anthology of Poems on Torture and Fernando Botero's
Abu Ghraib. Yes, it is done and here. We are thrilled
with it and we hope you will be too. It contains poems
by Pulitzer Prize winner Maxine Kumin, Iraqi poet
Sinan Antoon, E. Ethelbert Miller, Naomi Shihab Nye
and many others.

Also, I was able to walk through the AU Museum as the
Botero exhibit was being installed. I have to tell you
-- I was stunned. These paintings and sketches are
amazing, awful, and awesome. They simply must be seen.
There are 79 pieces, the entire Abu Ghraib collection
and this is the first time anywhere they have been

The launch reading for CUT LOOSE THE BODY is Saturday
night, November 10th. The exhibit opens at 6:00 and
the poetry reading begins at 7:00pm. The reading will
feature: Kyle Dargan, Myra Sklarew, Consuelo
E. Ethelbert Miller, Sinan Antoon, D. Nurkse, and
Tala A.Rameh.

Please join us. Joseph Ross

Since 2001, China has accounted for one-third of the world's economic growth.
What's going on in Mogadishu?
Poor Somalia.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Taxicab strike tomorrow?
The battle over meters and the zone system is another indication of the changing "culture" in DC. New residents claim they don't know the zones. OK - maybe they don't know the wards either, should we change them? Meters favor downtown folks who want to hail a cab after a play or a night out. It's also good for those lobbyists on the Hill. But DC is a city of neighborhoods. Working class folks getting stuck in traffic can kiss the rent money good-bye or maybe those extra rib treats. How will this issue make the Ethiopian community become more involved in city politics? Meter or no meter - it's still difficult at times for a black man out here to catch a cab. Poor Ethelbert - how is he going to get around town? What about the Great Pumpkin? A strike is a good excuse for him not showing up tomorrow night.
Her father Aziz Shihab recently died.

Prayers from one heart to another...
Today I attended the B'Nai B'Rith International Policy Conference "Point/Counterpoint, Divergent Views on Today's Pressing News." It was held at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel. I participated on the panel dealing with Black-Jewish Relations. My fellow panelists were:

Hilary Shelton - Director, NAACP Washington Bureau
Stephen Kurzman- former Assistant Secretary for HEW and former Advisor to the U.S.
Civil Rights Commission
Lawence Rubin - former Head of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs

The session was chaired by Jared Hakimi.

In my remarks I mentioned the need for dialogue between Black and Jewish intellectuals. Two comments during the session were memorable:

Kurzman - "All progress is local."

Rubin - "Build your bridges before you need them."

Monday, October 29, 2007

I received this information from Ginger G this morning:

Long-Time Activists of Color Invited to Apply for Sabbatical Program
Deadline: December 15, 2007

The Alston/Bannerman Fellowship Program is committed to advancingprogressive social change by helping to sustain long-time activists of color.

The program honors those who have devoted their lives to helping their communities organize for racial, social, economic, and environmental justice, and provides resources for these organizers to take sabbaticals for reflection and renewal.

To qualify for an Alston/Bannerman Fellowship, applicants mustbe a person of color; have more than ten years of community organizing experience; be committed to continuing to work for social change; and live in the United States or its territories.

Both full-time and volunteer activists are eligible to apply.
Fellows receive a $25,000 award to take sabbaticals of three months or more.

Fellows are expected to stop their day-to-day work activities for at least three months and devote that time to activities that are substantially different from their normal routine.

Fellows have the freedom to use their sabbaticals however they think will best re-energize them for the work ahead.

Past fellows have used the time and resources to travel, study, visit with other activists,read, relax, acquire new skills, explore new interests, spendtime with their families, restore their health, plan, evaluate,and "just be still." Visit the program's Web site for complete program details.

Link: Fellowship Progam 1627 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21231
Phone: 410-327-6220
Fax: 501-421-5862.
If DC was Tehran, I think folks would be quietly packing and moving beyond the Beltway. So much talk in the air about war. Wars start when people are casual with talking about them. Folks have been talking about attacking Iran as if there is nothing else to do. Israel's recent attack against Syria is a further indication that WW III might just come to the Middle East before a new US president takes office. Ending one war is difficult. Try finding the solution about how to end three. Think about bombs falling on DC and maybe we might want to think about peace in the New Year. Refugees trying to make it to Baltimore is not a pretty picture. Refugees fleeing cities in Iran is just as ugly.
New Books:

Gail Vida Hamburg just sent me a copy of her new book - THE EDGE OF THE WORLD. This is what Askold Melnyczuk says about her work:

" Gail Vida Hamburg's novel in stories is a stunning collection of psychologically complex and stylistically sophisticated tales..."

Gail is a graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars. Bennies Rule!

For more information about Gail's book visit:

Yesterday in NY Times Book Review there was a review by Pankaj Mishra of COLTRANE: The Story of a Sound by Ben Ratliff. This is a new biography of the great jazz musician. The book is published by Farrar, Straus& Giroux. It sells for $ 24.
I'm reading Naomi Klein's THE SHOCK DOCTRINE and this book has to be the E-PICK of the year. I spent the weekend reading chapters 20 and 21. Whew. Klein's insights make the daily newspapers feel like toilet paper. What have we been wiping our minds with for so long? Klein's research and writing lifts the veil that has been covering the truth about how our world runs.
More Sports:
After Ichiro, Tom Brady is the player I love to watch. Nothing but cool. Ice. Indy has a chance to defeat New England next Sunday only because they might have a better defense. Dungy has finally placed his stamp on the Indy team. It's the only reason they are Super Bowl champs. Defense won it last season- even Peyton Head knows it. But the Brady bunch has something to prove. Next Sunday is the Super Bowl --don't let anyone from London steal it. Talkin' London - why did the NFL make Miami and NY make that trip? Why are football players running around on a soccer field in the rain? How many of those folks in the stands had discount tickets? Where did they buy those jerseys? Hey NFL - confess. Don't be like FEMA. The NFL is looking for that international market. The average American will grow up never attending a game - it might as well be Opera. The next football game could be played in Germany or Japan - priceless? Or just greed?
Well, what else can one talk about on a Monday morning? The World Series is over. It looks like the American League is the much better league. When I was growing up the National League was awesome with Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Cepeda, Koufax, Gibson and the list goes on. Today the NL can't win the All-Star game and they can't win the Fall Classic. Have the Red Sox become the Yankees? The best thing the Sox did was keep Manny. I like the way the guy runs the bases - it's all about style. Manny style; like how he paints a home run from the plate and watches it dry as it goes over the fence. Picasso did the same thing. Why do people complain?
Listening to Hootie & The Blowfish- Cracked Rear View.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I told folks that New England would score 50 points against Washington. ( 52-7) Ouch!
I know several people who should buy me a beer this week. Fetch a cold one please.
In the latest issue of APR, Silvia Curbelo writes the following:

Years later I attended a lecture by Carolyn Forche on the ins and outs of process. At one point she warned against becoming so dependent on computers that one day we might not be able to write without one. If you must compose at the computer, she insisted, never rely on the delete key for the purpose of editing. And never use the cut and paste feature to replace a word or a line.

Instead, she urged us to retype the line or stanza in its entirety each time, trying out a new word or phrase, then typing it over and over with subtle variations until we got it right. The purpose, she told us, is to feel the words move through our fingers, to let the hands become part of the equation so that we are physically connected to the poem at every turn.
Hey - don't die before checking out this site:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Might this help?
The following was in The Wall Street Journal (October 27-28,2007):

Trip Planner.


Where To Stay: There are a number of war-era hotels in District 1 - the part of the city still known as Saigon. The Caravelle, a swish affair, has a rooftop bar from which foreign correspondents used to keep an eye on battles in the countryside from around $200 a night

What a difference a war makes. In a few years I can see ads inviting folks to downtown Baghdad. It's amazing how easy 6 can become 9.

What are we fighting for today? What will we be fighting for tomorrow?
Last man standing owns a Starbucks.
Sad news keeps coming out of California.
Where is SMOKEY THE BEAR? In the National Guard overseas?

Please join us in celebrating the birthday of America's oldest poetry journal POET LORE founded in 1889, with readings by two distinquished poets, ROBIN BECKER & MICHAEL LALLY.

Also a reception & book-signing

Sunday, November 11th at 2 PM

4508 Walsh Street
Bethesda, MD 20815

Friday, October 26, 2007

So should we all rush out and purchase a copy of WORLD WAR IV by Norman Podhoretz?
It sells for $24.95 (Doubleday)
New sanctions against Iran. Who do sanctions hurt? People or Governments? Have you ever seen a sanction? What would happen if other countries decided to "freeze" US assets?

Nothing but hotspots around the world (and I'm not even talkin' CA). By 2010 we could be looking at WWIII. Trouble spots: Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan - fill in the blank______________.
Yesterday I heard from my friend (and fellow poet) Sam Hamod out in San Diego land. Fires spreading - coming close to his home. I wrote him the following earlier today:

Hi S,
Thanks for the update. Glad to know you're OK. It's so sad to see what's happening around the world. Some people will never recover from the destruction of their homes or nations. Mental health issues need to be given more attention. What role should our government play in getting people back on their feet? I think it moves beyond first aid and temporary shelter. We also need our National Guard back in the States to handle some of these "natural" emergencies.
From California to Greenland, we are faced with changes that can turn a person's life upside down. In the face of earthquakes, fires and floods, political terrorism seems so unnecessary. Still what alarms me is the greed that is often unleashed by these disasters. Folks are always looking to make money from someone's suffering. Why is this not considered the number 1 sin?
ALICE WALKER - the movie.

I had a wonderful conversation this morning with filmmaker Pratibha Parmar. She called from England and we discussed the Alice Walker film she is working on. Parmar is trying to raise money for her project. If you have contacts to people with "deep" pockets or foundations she can approach, please let me know. I can be reached at

Here is a link to Pratibha Parmar's work:
Quote of the Day:

My husband has extraordinary leadership ability. But he was also not as interested in the day-to-day management. He was much more focused on our goals and objectives: how you do the politics, how you do the persuasion. I'm trying to meld leadership and management in a way that really suits me.

-Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY Times/10-26-07)
Another date to save?

December 8th at 8 PM
Kennedy Center Concert Hall
2700 F Street, NW
This event features Terence Blanchard, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling and Raul Midon.

For information: 202 467-4600
So there was the television show 24 giving us a tease of a new season last night - right in the middle of the World Series. I felt like Matt Holliday being picked off first base ending the eighth inning. What was he thinking and what was I watching? Well, Jack Bauer comes to DC to warn and remind us about terrorism in the world. No wonder so many folks in the Bush Administration love this show. What do we get in the next season? Well, we get a woman president (played by Cherry Jones). In a subtle way the show will have everyone wondering if they are looking at Lady Clinton in the White House. Having Jack Bauer running around DC for 24 hours will also remind the nation during an election year that the terrorist threat to mainland US is still real. Bauer on the Hill is slick; especially if he has to be called away to save the world. Hmmm. What is Congress doing? No more super-secret Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) - it's all in the hands of the FBI. Well, the 24 crew will be shooting in DC in November. I wonder if I can get a role running across the campus of Howard, or dodging cars on Georgia Avenue. I know how to duck and cover; skills I learned when I attended P.S. 39 (in the Bronx) back in the 1950s when we thought the Russians would steal our school boxes and make us put funny hats on our heads.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Leftwich out again??
The guy has such bad luck. He was injured in his first game with the Atlanta Falcons.
Out 3-4 weeks with a high ankle sprain.

Will the Red Sox have hits left in their bats tonight?
Josh Beckett can always win with one or two runs. No need to waste hits and runs.
Teams either stay very hot during a short series or they suddenly turn cold. Coors anyone?

I'm giving New England 50 pts against Washington on Sunday. All Brady has to do is stay healthy and this team is not going to lose this year.

Don Mattingly? Did this guy ever play in a World Series game?
The Yankees need some good pitchers.
When is the US going to change its Cuban policy? Is this just about Fidel? Is this about reversing the Cuban Revolution? What is this about? Geez - let's get back to waiting for the Great Pumpkin.
I have an upcoming presentation to make on October 30th at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel.

I've been invited by the B'Nai B'rith International to participate on a panel with Hilary Shelton, Director, NAACP Washington Bureau, Stephen Kurzman, former Assistant Secretary for Edcuation of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and Lawrence Rubin, former head of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Our topic will be: Black-Jewish Relations Today.

10:45 AM- Noon
Room: Monet 1 and 2
L'Enfant Plaza Hotel
480 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W.
Washington, D.C.
Upcoming Event:

D.C. Poets Against The War and the American University Museum announce the publication of Cut Loose the Body: An anthology of poems on torture and Fernando Botero’s Abu Ghraib paintings Edited by Rose Marie Berger and Joseph Ross, with an introduction by Sister Dianna Ortiz.

Saturday, November 10, 2007, from 7-8:30 p.m
at the American University Museum (at the Katzen Arts Center on Massachusetts and Nebraska Avenues, entrance just north of Ward Circle).

A reception will begin at 6 p.m. and a booksigning will follow the reading.

Join us for a reading from Cut Loose the Body with nationally recognized “poets of witness”—including Iraqi poet Sinan Antoon (Baghdad Blues), Brooklyn’s D. Nurkse (Burnt Island), Myra Sklarew (The Witness Trees), E. Ethelbert Miller (How We Sleep on the Nights We Don't Make Love), Consuelo Hernández (Poemas de Escombros y Cenizas), Kyle Dargan (Bouquet of Hungers), and more.

The reading will be held in the gallery where the Botero exhibit is on display.

Cut Loose the Body includes poems by Pulitzer prize winner Maxine Kumin, Guggenheim Fellow Martín Espada (The Republic of Poetry), Pushcart winner Naomi Shihab Nye, and prisoners’ poems from Guantanamo.

For more information, contact the American University Museum (202-885-1300) or Rose Berger (202-745-4619;

SAVE THE DATE: Split This Rock Poetry Festival, March 20-23, 2008, calls poets to a greater role in public life and fosters a national community of activist poets. Building the audience for poetry of provocation and witness from the nation’s capital, we celebrate poetic diversity and the transformative power of the imagination. Featured poets will include: Jimmy Santiago Baca, Lucille Clifton, Joy Harjo, Martín Espada, Galway Kinnell, Mark Doty, E. Ethelbert Miller, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Alix Olson.
The Wright Stuff:

Richard Wright Newsletter
$10 membership fee.

Join the Richard Wright Circle Membership
Contact: James A. Miller
The George Washington University
Department of English
801 22nd Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20052

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

So what's the Word?

30th Anniversary.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

African cuisine reception and film screening of Have You Heard From Johannesburg?
Produced & Directed by Connie Fields, Clarity Films

Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre
The American University
4200 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
(Wisconsin & Van Ness)

Tickets: $25.00
Seating is limited
To purchase tickets visit or 202-885-2587

So who will write the Ballad of Megan Williams?

Each human being exists because there's something they have to offer for the evolution of the universe that only they can fulfill.

- Herbie Hancock
Quote of the Day:

Schools serving middle-income kids are also doing a poor job of preparing them for higher education. Some 60% of freshman in the California State University system need remedial courses. And it's not because they grew up in Watts. At Dos Pueblos High School in ritzy Santa Barbara, only 28% of high school juniors tested college-ready for English in 2006, slightly better than the 23% of students who did so at San Marin High School in Marin County, where the median home price recently hit $1 million.

From the Opinion page of The Wall Street Journal, October 24, 2007.

EDWARDS - 2008.

I'm a member of the Host Committee for a reception with Future
First Lady Elizabeth Edwards,
on Friday, November 9, 2007, 4 to 7 PM.
The event will take place on Capitol Hill - 209 C Street, SE

Tickets are $175.

For further information:
Phone: 202 299-1100
Many thanks to Sarah Browning for nominating me for the George Garrett Prize for Community Service. There are 25 nominees for the prize. The AWP Board of Directors selects the winner.
Recognition will take place at the AWP's Annual Conference in New York City, on Thursday, January 31, 2008. Congrats to the other 24.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fires in California, rain falling in New Orleans. I spoke with poet Brenda Marie Osbey (in NO), she was OK. It's important to check on folks in these times. Sad to see so much destruction of homes and lives. All we need is Mother Nature to be upset with our behavior, to go along with our own human nonsense and wars. Some of us will turn to chaos in order to believe in something. It wasn't always this way. What's coming next? Is it too late for prophets who once wrote with their pens?
Gone Baby Gone (movie) is reviewed in The New Yorker (October 29th) by David Denby.
I think I might get some tickets.
Their Eyes Were Looking For The Prize:

Dear Arts Community and Friends,

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities
Invites you to submit nominations for the
23rd Annual Mayor's Arts Awards

Nomination deadline is Tuesday, December 4, 2007, 5:30 PM

For more information, call 202.724.5613 or visit

Awards Ceremony is Monday, March 17, 2008 at The Kennedy Center

Help spread the word!
34th Annual Washington Studies Conference
Empowerment 1968 - 2008
Nov. 1-3, 2007 Explore the culture, history, and politics of the city and the road we have traveled since 1968.
Location: The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
The Carnegie on Mount Vernon Square – 801 “K” Street, N.W.
QUESTIONS ? call 202.383.1837 or visit

6:00 p.m.
Welcoming Reception 34th Annual Washington Studies Conference
Light Show :Tim Pace, Light Works Planet Earth, Inc.
7:00 p.m.
Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Lecture :Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy
9:30 a.m.
PLENARY SESSION: Politics & Public Education in the Nation’s Capital
Jennings Wagoner, University of Virginia
Cosby Hunt, Lincoln / Bell Multicultural High School
11:00 a.m.
SESSION: At Home in Washington – Consumer Culture, Holiday Habits
“Colored Washington on Holiday”
MODERATOR: Donna Wells, Photo Librarian, Moorland Spingarn Research Center
Patsy Fletcher, Independent Historian
“Craps & Whist; Juke Joints & Charity Balls: Class and Leisure in Black Washington
Adia H. Phillips, M.A. Candidate, American University

SESSION: Money, Land, and Power
MODERATOR: John Olinger, Rainbow History Coalition
“Capital Investment: Real Estate Speculation in the District of Columbia, 1790-1830”
Dana Stefanelli, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Virginia
“Alexander R. Shepherd – His Times and Ours”
John Richardson, Independent Researcher
“The Clerk, the Ambassador, and the Insurance Man: Building D.C. Stadium, 1960-1”
Brett L. Abrams, Ph.D., Independent Scholar

SESSION: Washington, D.C.: Architecture of Contrast
Latrobe Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians,
“An Insider’s View: Sculpture and Sculptors of the Washington National Cathedral”
Andy Seferlis, Restorationist
“A Presbyterian ‘Cathedral’?: Congregational Space and Civic Space in the National Presbyterian Church”
David Bains, Stamford University
“The Statler Hotel (Capital Hilton): A Modern Hotel for World War II-Era Washington, D.C.”
Lisa Davidson, Architectural Historian, HABS / HAER
“Philip Johnson in the Nation’s Capital: Shaping a Modernism in a Classical City”
Karin Alexis, Art and Architectural Historian

SESSION: DC in Motion
“Dance Party: The Teenarama Story” Screening and Discussion
Beverly Lindsay-Johnson, filmmaker

SESSION: Walking Tour - “Convention Center & Shaw”
Jeanne Fogle, A Tour de Force

12:00 – 2:00 p.m.

History Network
COORDINATOR: Matthew Gilmore

12:45 – 3:30

COORDINATOR: Jeff Krulik, Filmmaker
“This is Duckpin Country”; “Fine Food, Fine Pastries, Open 6 to 9”;From Here to Obscurity: The “Best” of Travesty Films”; George Merriken Home Movies; “Theatre Dark”; DC Treasures from the National Archives; 1968-1970 Local Newscasts thanks to Richard Nixon; AND MORE.

2:00 p.m.

SESSION: History and Archeology at Walter Pierce Park
“History Underfoot in Walter Pierce Park”
Eddie Becker and Mary Belcher, Neighborhood Historians
“The Colored Union Benevolent Association: Who Were They?”
Mary Belcher
“Remembering D.C.’s Colored Union Benevolent Association”
Mark Mack, Interim Curator, W. Montague Cobb Biological Anthropology Lab, Howard University

SESSION: City Divided by Race
“No Black Baseball at the White House: Gradual Segregation of Public Space during Reconstruction”
Ryan Swanson, Ph.D. Candidate, Georgetown University
“Immigration, Race, and Ethnicity in Washington, D.C., 1900-1918”
Rebecca Wieters, Ph.D. Program, University of Maryland

SESSION: Public Violence in D.C.
MODERATOR: Maurice Jackson, Georgetown University
“Francis Scott Key and the Snow Riot”
Jefferson Morley, Journalist
“Capture of The Pearl and Washington’s Anti-Abolitionist Mob”
Josephine Pacheco, Professor Emerita, George Mason University
David Krugler, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin
Dana Schaffer, Gilder Lehrman Center, Yale University

SESSION: Walking Tour - Mount Vernon Square and Massachusetts Avenue
Jeanne Fogle, A Tour de Force

3:45 p.m.

SESSION: Designs for Washington
MODERATOR: Don Alexander Hawkins, Architect; President, Committee of 100 on the Federal City
“Capital Craftsman: John Skirving in Washington”
David S. Rotenstein, Independent Scholar
“Rethinking L’Enfant in the Twentieth Century: The Justement-Smith Plan for Southwest Washington”
Catherine W. Zipf, Assistant Professor, Salve Regina University
“Urban Redevelopment in Southwest D.C.”, Richard W. Longstreth, Professor, George Washington University

SESSION: Dance Lesson !: The Art of DC Hand Dance
Lawrence Bradford, CEO and Master Instructor, Smooth & EZ Hand Dance Institute of Washington

SESSION: “Singing in the Background: African American Opera in Early 20th Century Washington”
MODERATOR: Jim Weaver, National Music Center
“The National Negro Opera Company”
Samuel J. Perryman, Library of Congress
“The Life of Madame Lillian Evanti”
Eric Ledell Smith, Associate Historian, State Museum of Pennsylvania
“The Evans-Tibbs Collection”
Jennifer Morris, Anacostia Museum

SESSION: Insurgencies: Reform and Rebellion in D.C. Jails
MODERATOR: Bernard Demczuk, Vice-Chair, Historical Society of Washington, D.C.; doctoral candidate in African American and D.C. History, George Washington University; former Correctional Officer, D.C. Jail
"Time and Punishment: Two Hundred Years of Penal Reform in the District of Columbia"
Alison M. Gavin, National Archives
“Uprisings Behind the Walls: D.C. Prisoner Communities during the 1970s”
Yango Sawyer, Community Organizer and Prison Reform Activist
“Recent History: the D.C. Prison Reform Effort, 1995 – 2007”
D.C. Prisoners’ Rights Project

SESSION: Walking Tour: Seventh Street & Chinatown
Jeanne Fogle, A Tour de Force
5:30 p.m.
Music of 60s Washington
Donal Leace, Musician
6:00 p.m.

MODERATOR: Jerry Phillips
Tony Gittens
Lawrence Guyot
Bob King
Donal Leace
Larry Rosen
Anwar Saleem
Frank Smith, Jr.
and the audience
9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
COORDINATOR: Jeff Krulik, Filmmaker
“This is Duckpin Country”; “Fine Food, Fine Pastries, Open 6 to 9”;From Here to Obscurity: The “Best” of Travesty Films”; George Merriken Home Movies; “Theatre Dark”; DC Treasures from the National Archives; 1968-1970 Local Newscasts thanks to Richard Nixon; AND MORE.

9:30 a.m.

SESSION: D.C. History Resources Update: Treasured Places / Endangered Spaces
MODERATOR: Rebecca Miller, Executive Director, D.C. Preservation League
“Lessons from Katrina: A Field Wide Response”
Carma C. Fauntleroy, Museums Consultant
“Update: Eastern Market”
Donna Scheeder, Chairman, Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee
“Update: Georgetown Library & the Peabody Room”
Mark Greek, DCPL Photo Archivist and Georgetown Salvage Coordinator
“Update: Congressional Cemetery at 200”
Sandy Schmidt, Congressional Cemetery Archivist

SESSION: “Teaching with Historic Places: All Souls’ Unitarian Universalist Church & Heurich House”
MODERATOR: Kathleen Franz, Director of Public History, American University
Presenters: Allison Boals, Courtney Esposito, Amy Johnson, Lindsay Flanagan, Cigdem Pael
American University Public History Graduate Programs

SESSION: D.C.’s Citizen Organizers
“The Voice of the Voteless”: The Voteless D.C. League of Women Voters’ Campaigns for Suffrage, National Representation, and Home Rule, 1917-1941”
Katharina Hering, George Mason University
“Parent Organizing for Equity in the D.C. Public Schools”
Jenice L. View, Assistant Professor, George Mason University

SESSION: WORKSHOP: “Beginners’ Guide to Research in HSW’s Kiplinger Research Library”
MODERATOR: [Blackman ]
Yvonne Carignan, Director, Kiplinger Research Library

11:15 a.m.

SESSION: ROUND TABLE: Civil Rights, Home Rule, and the Struggle for Political Autonomy in D.C.
MODERATOR: Courtland Milloy, Washington Post
Michael Fauntroy, George Mason University, and author, Home Rule or House Rule
Rebecca Kingsley, Filmmaker, The Last Colony
Sam Smith, Progressive Review
Peter Craig, Emergency Committee on the Transportation Crisis

SESSION: ROUND TABLE: “Archives, Oral History, and Digital Technology: Using Area Resources to Produce a Documentary on Anti-Vietnam War Activism”
MODERATOR: Kenneth Woodard, Social Studies Chair, Connelly School of the Holy Child
Presenters: Claire DeLaurentis, Sasha Hamilton-Cotter, Kourtney Lyons, Colleen Ring
Students, Connelly School of the Holy Child

SESSION: WORKSHOP: “Preserving Family and Community Heritage”
INTRODUCTION: Yvonne Carignan, Director, HSW Kiplinger Research Library
Don Williams, Senior Conservator, Smithsonian Institution

1:15 p.m.

SESSION: “D.C. On Stage: DreamCity Theatre Group - Performance and Discussion
DreamCity Troupe and
John Muller, Executive Director, DreamCity

SESSION: Filming the City
Robert Uth, New Voyage Communications
Glenn Marcus, Producer

3:00 p.m.

SESSION: D.C. Style: A Salute to the Reporters Who Chronicled Real Washington Society & Fashion
MODERATOR: Rosemary Reed

SESSION: Psychedelic DC: Live at the Ambassador Theater
MODERATOR: Jeff Krulik, Filmmaker
Annie Groer, Washington Post
Richard Harrington, Washington Post
Joel Mednick, Promoter
Jerry Marmelstein, The Psychedelic Power and Light Company
Michael Paper, Ambassador Announcer and Soundman
Mike Schreibman, President, Washington Area Musicians Association
It was just a matter of time before a group in the Iraq war area emerged with some letters.
Al-Qaeda I felt lacked those initials that we associate with "bad" guys. So now thanks to the Kurds we have the PKK which stands for the Kurdistan Workers' Party. Might this mean "Socialism" is going to make a comeback? Workers' Party carries that old Communist tune and a copy of Marx in a back pocket. Remember when we were afraid of the C- Manifesto? How quickly that became replaced by the Quran. Today we fear radical Islam the way we feared the Red takeover of our lives. Whatever happen to the good old days, when countries were divided in half and you knew the enemy was on the otherside of the border? PKK will emerge as part of talk show discussions. We will now have to understand that the Kurds want their own nation. It's looks like buffet - apiece of Turkey, Iran and Iraq - that's what the Kurds want. If we're not careful, we can be pulled into another World War. What happens if Turkey invades what we define as Iraq? From OPP to PKK? Call 411 for history lessons.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Quote of the Day:

Animals are on the move. Polar bears, kings of the Arctic, now search for ice on which to hunt and bear young. Seals, walrus and fish adapted to the cold are retreating north. New species - salmon, crabs, even crows - are coming from the south. The Inuit, who have lived on the frozen land for millennia, are seeing their houses sink into once-frozen mud, and their hunting trails on the ice are pocked with sinkholes.

Doug Struck, Washington Post Staff Writer, October 22, 2007
Listening to The Isley Brothers: You Help Me Write This Song.
American Poetry Review (November/December 2007) is out. How many literary magazines does the average American poet read each week?
New novel out from Washinngton Writers' Publishing House - AND SILENT LEFT THE PLACE
by Elizabeth Bruce. Richard Bausch writes the following about Bruce's work:

"Bruce's characters leap off the page at you; they have vividness and substance, and the result, is that one feels the life there...a deeply gifted writer..."
Like a crackerjack surprise - I received a box from my friend K. Davis. She was returning a number of Black Box tapes that she placed on CDs for me. Black Box was that gem of a journal created by Alan Austin in the 1970s. It consisted of 2 cassette tapes in a box. Oh, so many wonderful voices recorded; those were the wonder years. Folks who worked with Alan getting this innovative magazine out included Etheridge Knight, Ahmos Zu-Bolton, Liam Rector, Anne Becker, et al. My name appears as an associate editor on a couple of issues. I still remember pulling poets into the small recording space Austin rented in the DuPont Circle neighborhood. Black Box # 8 was a special Washington issue. DC which Zu-Bolton called Demon City. So many names recorded are now gone: Adesanya Alakoye, Chasen Gaver, Roland Flint, Tim Dlugos, Sterling A. Brown, Michael Beaubien, Otis Williams...
Poetry lives and so their voices sing and we remember...
My day was spent serving as a Convener for the FY08 Young Artist Program Panel (DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities). The panel meeting was at the Dance Institute located at 3400 14th Street, NW. It was my first time inside this "new"building. Sweet space. It was fun watching auditions and discussing proposals. A second day of looking at grants tomorrow. This is my service to the field and community; all artists should accept a tour of duty. I'm in my last year as an Arts Commissioner. I was appointed by 2 mayors - now is the time to end this chapter in my life. Hopefully by no longer being associated with the Commission I can be more outspoken on the cultural direction DC seems to be heading in. The political battles that are beginning to take place in DC will also be rooted in the new culture wars that are going to occur in the various wards around town. Beware of the Long Ships (the limos) that will be seen on 14th Street, downtown, and elsewhere. The homeless black man with the paper cup in his hand is not Othello.

New England. New England. How many points will they score against the Washington Redskins next Sunday? 50?

Well the networks will have Manny and Ortiz for a few more games. Whew...that was close.
It has to be the Wahoo caps that did in Cleveland. Grin and bear it fellows. Get a new logo please. Coors is going to love the World Series.
Monday morning:

Another new political face elected(Saturday) and ready for media celebration. Keep an eye on the new Republican Governor from Louisiana - Bobby Jindal. Conservative policies in a new racial flavor?Jindal is the son of immigrant parents from India. How could this guy run for office and not pay more attention to Katrina recovery? Look for Jindal to be showcased at the Republican Convention next year. Will there be Indian/Black conflicts in Louisiana similar to what one can find in other parts of the world? Jindal's background seem to be one of privilege by way of Oxford. How will he tackle the problems of the African American community? This guy was a Congressmen from the New Orleans suburbs. How far away from the 9th Ward is what I want to know. To be continued...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Listening to old albums tonight - music composed by Igor Stravinsky. I'm getting ready for the week.
Interesting new book reviewed in the New York Times today:

The Slave Ship: A Human History
by Marcus Rediker

Viking Press/$27.95
The new Poet Lore magazine is out. It contains work by:

Anya Achtenberg
Tony Hoagland
Celeste Guzman Mendoza
Faisal Mohyuddin
Mary Morris
Brenda Marie Osbey
Henry Taylor
Becky Thompson
Debra Wierenga
Honoree Fanonme Jeffers

and many others.

For Poet Lore information go to:
Right below The Dalai Lama's essay in today's newspaper was an article by David Nicholson. I didn't know he had moved from his Takoma neighborhood. I've always admired the guy. Writer, founder of the Black Film Review, and the former assistant editor of The Washington Post's Book World -Nicholson was always a good man with standards and convictions. In the newspaper today he writes about how he couldn't sacrifice his son by placing him in a DC school.
You have to feel the Dave pain. He loves DC - but he loves his son too. Too often folks talk about education but either they have no children, older children or their kids are in private schools.
Nicholson is not writing fiction when he describes his experiences with the DC schools. It's going to take about 8 years to fix some of these problems. How many young people are being cheated out of a good education right now? What's a parent to do if they have options? Nicholson could move from the city and find a new residency. Many people in the city have to deal with the schools in their neighborhoods, year after year. I placed my kids in private schools and I could tell you horror stories about that experience too. Money down the drain in some cases and your child walking around with scars years later. Read David Nicholson's article. Will Fenty fix the educational fences in time for another generation not to become a lost one? Some of us can't wait.
It was inspiring to read The Dalai Lama's comments in the Washington Post today (Outlook Section). Below is an excerpt:

Brute force can never subdue the basic human desire for freedom.
The thousands of people who marched in the cities of Eastern Europe in recent decades, the unwavering determination of the people in my homeland of Tibet and the recent demonstrations in Burma are powerful reminders of this truth. Freedom is the very source of creativity and human development. It is not enough, as communist systems assumed, to provide people with food, shelter and clothing. If we have these things but lack the precious air of liberty to sustain our deeper nature, we remain only half human.
Why do people protest and yell "No Justice, No Peace" instead of "PEACE AND JUSTICE?"
We should be the calm and not the storm. Uplift and live. Hold language sacred. Place words into action. Good words should result in good deeds. Goodness should flow from love.
I need to clean the desk in my upstairs office. Several books I need to complete reading and two I need to start getting pass the first page. There is also a growing stack of magazines to go through - oh, and correspondence and some things to send to friends.

Yesterday I read 2 packets of submissions for Poet Lore. The 2 major things to work on this week will be my chair report for IPS and the Long Range Planning Report (IPS). I have all my notes so I just need to sit down and close it out.

Most of the day will be spent at The Writer's Center:
Boy,I dislike Sunday meetings. I try to keep one day free to relax - watch sports or just read the newspapers. Having that free day is like paying yourself first. If you're not careful you'll find yourself at a meeting or reception everyday. That can get old quickly...

Talking about getting old - another "Bert Day" next month (2oth). 3 years until being 60.
I have a talk on "BERT DAY"at the School Without Walls. The young people there are reading my memoir FATHERING WORDS. The PEN/Faulkner Foundation is sponsoring my visit.

Well, some good news, the Petworth Metro Station installation is almost done. Look for the large leaf and my poem by the entrance before the month ends.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I believe that basically you write for two people; yourself to try to make it absolutely perfect; of if not that then wonderful. Then you write for who you love whether she can read or write or not and whether she is alive or dead.

- Ernest Hemingway
Every man becomes civilized between the ages of 18 and 25. If he does not go through a civilizing experience at that time of his life, he will not become a civilized man. The men who went to war at 18 missed the civilizing...
All you young people who served in the war are a lost generation. You have no respect for anything.

- Gertrude Stein
Lucky Dube killed in South Africa. Reggae Star dead at 43.
Great to see poet Afaa Michael Weaver on the cover of Poets & Writers (November/December 2007). Congrats Micky!
The Wall Street Journal (October 17th):

Blackwater's security work for the State Department in Baghdad is up for renewal in May, and U.S. officials say it would take at least that long to arrange for another private contractor to take over. Even a new company would have to rely heavily on hires from Blackwater's employee base of a about 1,000 in Iraq. Hiring and training new guards, all of whom must be Americans with classified-security clearance, would otherwise take months.

What's the difference between habitat destruction and gentrification? When is a threat to a species similar to what we see happening in many American cities today? Is it possible for some people to become not only obsolete but also extinct? For example, is it possible to have jazz in New Orleans without black people? I wake-up some days and look in the mirror- my black skin reminds me of dinosaur scales. I need to get to a museum. I hear there is still affordable housing in a few showcases. What's a dinosaur to do these days? Should we clutch our tails like fists?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Yes, that was Weusi Baraka, Hodari Davis and Ethelbert Miller sitting in the Mocha this morning. I saw them but didn't get a chance to say anything. The brothers were huddle like they were calling a play for Brady. Davis is a Moss of a guy - organizing the big YOUTH SPEAKS - BRAVE NEW VOICES 2008 coming to DC. The 11th Annual International Youth Poetry Slam Festival, July 15-22. Circle those dates. Spoken Words for Ears.
Baraka is trying to get those extra yards in the city - the type you need on third down. We should block for the brother. Yeah, Block for Baraka - folks don't even do that in Newark. Shame. DC can do better. SLAM you say?
A rest day tomorrow. On Sunday I'll have to travel to Bethesda for an all-day board meeting at The Writer's Center. Funny how October is almost over. Ginger G coming back to town around Bert Day; so many people still waiting for The Great Pumpkin. It's almost the end of the year and it feels like we're sitting on the edge of something, but we don't know what it is. Do you Mr. Jones?

Saturday, Oct. 27, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.,
Freer Gallery of Art

In celebration of the 800th anniversary of the poet Rumi's birth, theUnited Nations has declared 2007 "International Rumi Year;" the University of Maryland will host a three-day conference in September;and the Academy Award (Oscar) ceremonies will feature a segment
honoring him. The most anticipated event; however, is a full day of music, food and poetry happening Saturday, Oct. 27, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Freer Gallery of Art.

The Freer presents "Rumi at 800: A Sufi Celebration," a celebration ofthe birth of poet and mystic Mevlana Jalal-ad-Din Rumi born in 1207.

Rumi inspired the founding of the Whirling Dervishes and remains one of the world's best-selling authors in any language. The event concludes with a reading of Rumi and other poems byPalestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye.

The event is made possible with support from Koç Holding. Following is a list of the day's events:

A Gallery Tour with Poet Naomi Shihab Nye 11:15 a.m.,
Meet at Freer info desk
Explore Asian art from the unique perspective of poet Naomi Shihab Nye, a National Book Award finalist for her collection 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East.

She reflects on the art of poetry in the context of the visual arts traditions of Asia.Rumi's Mystical Journey: Poetry in Song *12 p.m., Meyer Auditorium.

Experience the mystical mood of a traditional Sufi assembly with Kazem Davoudian, the Iranian-born composer and virtuoso on the Persians antur (hammered dulcimer). He has appeared as solo performer and conductor at Wolf trap, the George Washington Masonic Temple, and the Kennedy Center.

He is joined by the Afghan-born vocalist and harmonium virtuoso, Humayun Khan, a disciple of the legendary Ustad Vilayat Khan, blending north Indian ragas with Persian Sufi ghazals; vocalist Lida Saeedian, who has performed throughout the United States; and percussionist Behfar Bahadoran.

Poetry ReadingYoung Voices/New Poems1:30-3:30 p.m., FreerYoung writers from the Washington area share poems written during a summer residency at the museum under the guidance of poet and teacherLisa Pegram. Through poetry they explore the many relationships they see between the literary and visual arts, and perform next to the artworks that inspired their writing. Poets are Kiimara Baker, Kaylah Miranda, Lynda Nguyen, Bianca Martinez, Lily Reeder, Ramona Santana,Thandiwe Hunter, and Catherine Frost.

ConcertPersian National Music Ensemble*3:30 p.m., Meyer Auditorium.
This five-member ensemble from Baltimore recently performed with Rumi translator Coleman Barks at the American Visionary Art Museum. They will recite Rumi's poetry in English, tell famous stories about the mystic-poet, and then perform his poems in Persian, accompanied by santur (hammered dulcimer), tar (lute), violin, and percussion.

Director and composer Ahman Borhani taught music at Ferdowsi University in Iran and is a specialist in the life and poetry of Rumi.Imag in Asia Reciting Rumi in the Galleries3:30-5 p.m., Freer Courtyard(Rain location: Freer galleries 3 and 4)Children ages six to fourteen and their adult companions use an activity book to explore the relationship between poetry and painting in the Freer's Arts of the Islamic World galleries and recite Rumi inthe galleries.

Afterwards they write their own poems on illuminated pages to share with other participants.

Poetry Reading *Naomi Shihab Nye7:30 p.m., Meyer Auditorium.
In this finale to our daylong Rumi celebration, National Book Award finalist Naomi Shihab Nye reads from Rumi's work as well as her own poetry, including 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East AMaze Me. Naomi Shihab Nye was featured in Bill Moyers' PBS poetry special The Language of Life, appeared on public radio's A PrairieHome Companion, and earned eight major poetry prizes, including theLavan Award from the Academy of American Poets. Don't miss one of today's leading poets as she shares her deep appreciation of Rumi's spirit and legacy.

Refreshments1-5 p.m., Freer courtyard

Takoma Park, Maryland's own "Middle Eastern Cuisine" will be in the Freer courtyard selling a variety of delicious foods and beverages.*Free tickets are required for performances. Two tickets per person are distributed at the Meyer Auditorium one hour before the event on a first-come, first-served basis. Up to four tickets per person can also be reserved through Ticketmaster beginning at 10 a.m. two Mondays before the event.Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Smithsonian Institution 1050 Independence Avenue SW Washington, DC 20560
Today I was the speaker at the Opening Session of the Virginia Association of Teachers of English (VATE) 38th Annual Fall Conference. It was held at the Holiday Inn Dulles in Dulles, Virginia. I spoke on the topic of being a literary activist and also read a few poems. Here is an excerpt from my speech:

As teachers, many of you have made a commitment to educating the leaders of tomorrow.
I feel the same way when I enter a classroom or auditorium and give a poetry reading or lecture. If during that session I can increase a student's appreciation of poetry or help with their creative expression, then I believe I've planted seeds that others will help to harvest.

October 17th, 2007

Dear Friends,

As I hope all of you know, for three years I have been editing an arts
publication called Bourgeon. And for those three years I have resisted
asking most of you for your support. That is not to say that I have not
received it.

Bourgeon has been produced on an entirely volunteer basis. In the past
three years more than 80 artists have contributed. Financially, the
Humanities Council of Greater Washington and subscribers have helped
support the creation and printing of the journal. Now I need your help.

A year ago I received a letter from the Curator of the Dance Collection
of the New York Library for the Performing Arts accepting Bourgeon into
the Collection that included the following comment:

"I have edited the Australian Dance Journal, Brolga, and can certainly
appreciate your efforts as a journal editor, your vision of 'Bourgeon'
as a platform for the expression of ideas about dance, and your advocacy
for the dance community."

I have been very grateful - over the past three years - for the support
of the writers and editors who have helped make the publication
possible. Now I need financial support.

In August we were recognized as a not-for-profit. I, and the staff, are working on grant proposals to cover the costs of creating the next issue. But that does not help me
with the costs of printing the current issue.

The bill is almost $6,000 for color printing. If I print in black and
white, the bill is just under $3,000.

Please take a look at the past issues online at, and while you are there, if you can, click through to the funding page to donate. All donations are tax deductible.

Bourgeon helps its readers to better understand the arts. I know we
share an appreciation for the power of the arts, and I am asking for
your help so that we can share that vision.

Sincerely Yours,

Rob Bettmann, Editor
This morning while waiting for the bus I had a long conversation with my daughter about meters and cabs. We don't see eye to eye on this issue and we live in the same house. I think the introducing of meters into the DC cab system can be traced to Fenty's rhetoric about DC being a World Class City. Meters are for the folks who can cab around downtown - it's not for neighborhood folks. Do you know how much I would have to spend arriving at National Airport and trying to get home- during RUSH HOUR? Remember all those NY movies, where the guy gets stuck in traffic and the meter keeps running? Folks who have lived in the city (for many years) usually know the zones. It's the new folks who don't want to understand the system. Meters should be taught as a second language to anyone buying a condo or wearing a Boston Red Sox hat (and living in DC). Changing the meter system is just like gentrification. World Class cities are never the homes for poor people; usually it simply a place where they dream. Day to day the cities steals from their pockets; so it becomes a place of hustle and crime. As cabs drive by you can see the folks who have money. If you had money (which is just as good as cash) you could live free and cab all day and night. Jump in/ jump out. Receipts come out of a machine and you don't have to ask the driver to search for anything. Oh, and this is what the colonizers once called civilization. I call it the Taxicab Blues. Yes, I do.
Have you seen the November Ebony? Oh - ALICIA! All you have to do is look at the cover of the magazine and you can see sweet Harriette Cole's fingerprints all over it. Cole is the new Creative Director of Ebony. What an upgrade this magazine now has. Call it Ebony 10.0. I find myself looking for the magazine again. Always something in it to read - thank God no more Bobby Brown/Whitney wedding photos, or articles about how much Franklin loves porn. No, No. Alicia Keys on the cover looking so Diva - or is she Dorothy Dandridge? I love Alicia. This woman has no need to use sex or looks to sell her music. I must be falling...
I received James E. Cherry's novel in the mail today. SHADOW OF LIGHT was just published by Serpent's Tail (London). Cherry lives in Tennessee and has a collection of poems coming out next year from Third World Press. I read the first 20 pages of Cherry's SHADOW OF LIGHT. Hard punches disguised as words. The story leaps around the reader like a fire in a bed. Cherry admires Chester Himes. Critic Jerry Ward links him to Richard Wright. Look for this paperback original:
Listening to Is It Rolling Bob? A Reggae Tribute To Bob Dylan.
I love this CD. You know we all Gotta Serve Somebody.

Call me RastaBert - Knockin' On Heaven's Door.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Well Miles Dean did it. He rode his horse across the Howard campus this afternoon, followed by 10 cowboys and cowgirls on horses. What a sight! The HU security running around and not knowing what to do. And who invited these guys? Wyatt Earp or Ethelbert? Dean and I sat near Rankin Chapel talking and taking pictures. Horses eating grass and munching on apples. It was as a Bonanza of a day - fun all around. Check and see if Dean is going to ride into your town soon:
What's Ethelbert doing?
Turkey in the news and nobody is talking about Thanksgiving. More war? Hit me with a drumstick. Where is the Rice?
World War III and nobody blinks. Yesterday Bush was talking about WWWIII and war with Iran. Is this thinking about the thinkable and not the unthinkable?
War - what is it good for?

American University Museum
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 11-4 PM
Admission Free

November 6 - December 30th

Artists' Reception
Tuesday, November 6, 2007, 6-9 PM
American University Museum, Katzen Arts Center.
First US exhibition of the whole series, Fernando Botero's "Abu Ghraib" paintings. They capture his response to the events that took place at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in 2003 and 2004. The exhibit consists of paintings and drawings that depict abuses, both physical and moral, inflicted on Iraqi prisoners.

Ghosts of Abu Ghraib: A Human Rights Film Festival.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
5:30 PM Abramson Family Recital Hall,
Katzen Arts Center.

D.C. Poets Against the War: Evening of Poetry
Saturday, November 10, 2007, 6-9 PM
American University Museum, Katzen Arts Center

Panel on Torture
Thursday, November 15, 2007, 6 PM
American University Museum, Katzen Arts Center
My friend Ann in Norway sent me a copy of HAVAMAL - THE SAYINGS OF THE VIKINGS.
This book contains good wisdom from the North:

The Nature of Friendship

A bad friend
is far away
though his cottage is close.
To a true friend
lies a trodden road
though his farm lies far away

The Early Bird...

Wake early
if you want
another man's life or land.
No lamb
for the lazy wolf.
No battle's won in bed.


Cattle die
kinsmen die
all men are mortal.
Words of praise
will never perish
nor a noble name.
So where is Kobe going?
Dallas? Chicago? What's Kobe's worth? The Lakers need to find some players to play with the guy. Things look as if Kobe has the entire Lakers organization trapped in a Colorado Hotel Room.
Quote of the Day:

If it doesn't happen, so who cares? There's always next year. It's not like the end of the world or something.
- Manny Ramirez, Boston Red Sox

I love Manny - give him the Duane Thomas Player of the Year Award.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Who owns the ticker? Is this the M word?
So DC cabs are going to have meters in the near future. Will they click twice when they pass a black man on the sidewalk with his hand out? Catch a cab/chase a meter. Is this another "symbolic" way DC is morphing into New York? Should we look for Fenty to turn Potomac paddle boats into Staten Island Ferries? Watch the other fingers of anyone who always gives you the thumbs up.
Richard Wright web site in progress:

No need to wait until 2015 for the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture to open on the Washington Mall.
Get to the web:
The new Callaloo magazine (Vol 30, No.2) is out. This one is Guest-Edited by Ivy Wilson and Ayo A. Coly. It looks like Charles Rowell must be outsourcing the journal these days or livin' large in Texas. Fred Joiner has a poem in this issue. There is also an interview with Edwidge Danticat - but what caught my attention was the essay by Stanka Radovic on the work of Edouard Glissant.

Another interesting essay can be found in the African American Review (Vol. 41, No. 1).
Be sure to read "How the Socialism of W.E.B. DuBois Still Matters: Black Socialism in The Quest of the Silver Fleece -and Beyond by Mark Van Wienen and Julie Kraft.
From Black Power to Green Power?
Tiger Drinks on the way:
Tiger Woods has a deal with Gatorade. In March the company will introduce Gatorade Tiger in cherry blend, citrus blend and grape. Thirsty?
World Bank:
This institution was established at the end of World War II to help Europe get back on its feet.
Robert Zoellick the new president wants the Bank to focus on the following:
- combating poverty
- speeding aid to countries torn by war
- promoting regional cooperation to combate disease and climate change
- aiding the Arab world
Walter Isaacson's talk about Albert Einstein last night was very good. Isaacson the author of EINSTEIN: HIS LIFE AND UNIVERSE gave a wonderful , entertaining overview of Einstein life and ideas. It was good to see Stephen and Francine Trachtenberg. I hadn't spoken to them in awhile. Stephen Trachtenberg is now the President Emeritus of George Washington University. He started running GW back in 1988. I joked with him about my daughter being in her second year of law school at GW. Trachtenberg introduced Isaacson at the program and mentioned how he and his wife had collected several photographs of Einstein. No surprise here since Francine is known for her interest in photography.

Oh, and there sitting in the audience at the DCJCC last night was Adrienne B and Lady T, the 2 darlings that help keep the E-Notes and my web site up and going. These two women could be Muses. Maybe I should start a fan club for them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Join IPS Tomorrow: Which side are you on?

Thirty-One Years...

This year's program will mark the 31st anniversary of the September 21, 1976 car bombing that killed Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and American Ronni Karpen Moffitt. Until 9/11, it was the most infamous act of international terrorism ever to take place in our nation's capital.

Letelier and Moffitt were colleagues at the Institute for Policy Studies, where Letelier had become one of the most outspoken critics of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Moffitt was a 25-year-old fundraiser who ran a "Music Carryout" that made musical instruments accessible to all. A massive FBI investigation traced the crime to the highest levels of Pinochet's regime.

The Institute for Policy Studies has continued to host the annual human rights award in the names of Letelier and Moffitt to honor these fallen colleagues while celebrating new heroes of the human rights movement from the United States and elsewhere in the Americas.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

National Press Club Ballroom

529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC
Map & Directions

5:30pm • Reception and light fare

7-8:15pm • Human Rights Program

Award Presenters:

Eve Ensler
Rep. Jan Schakowsky
Wade Henderson
Big fun talking and laughing with my old friend Valerie Cassel Oliver today. I saw her article "Meditations of A B-Boy Buddhist, Sanford Biggers Talks with Valerie Cassel Oliver" in The International Review of African American Art and decided to find her. Thanks Mr. Internet. Valerie is living in Houston where she is curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum. It seems like just yesterday( and not the 1980s ) that I bumped into her in the halls of NEA. Valerie is one of those talented African American women who makes the sun shine. If Texas is the Lone Star state it's because of her. Can you name any other stars? See you can't. That's why so many people are living in darkness.
THE MAN ON THE HORSE is coming to see me this Thursday at 2:30 PM.
Founders Library, Howard University.
You might want to come see him too:

Talking with my Mom (today) we talked about hands. The taking care of hands. I reminded her about the importance of using lotion to boost hydration. With age, one's hands produces less lubricating oil. I was recently reading about how one should invest in a hand cream with humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Hold your parents hands today. Let your hands do the talking.

Books and language:

Donald Trump has a new book out. The title is THINK BIG AND KICK ASS IN BUSINESS AND LIFE.
This seems to be the problem in life. Folks want to Kick Ass (or Kiss Ass). Do you really want to know Trump's secrets and make them your own?
Are the Masses asses?
My interview with Edwidge Danticat is up:
Danticat was recently nominated for the 2007 National Book Award (Nonfiction).
Sad news:

In Puerto Rico, Barceloneta Mayor Sol Luis Fontanez who ordered the seizure of pets from housing units, had them thrown from a 50- foot high bridge. Is this guy blocking for Vick?
But will I get to keep my screen name?

AOL is eliminating another 2,000 jobs worldwide.
750 of those positions are in the Washington area.
Quote of the Day:

Frankly, it's time for the establishment of a Palestinian state."

- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Congrats to Dusty Baker who becomes the new manager of the Cincinnati Reds. He is the first black manager in the history of baseball's first professional team.

The Washington Redskin season could be over if they lose to Arizona on Sunday. No way they are going to defeat New England the following week, so they could be looking at 3 loses in a row.
Is it possible New England could clinch its division title by Thanksgiving? Buffalo is in second place in the American Conference Eastern Division. Their record is 1-4.

Treve de blues.
- Leon Damas




I'm lucky. Nobody occupies the other side of my bed. That honor is reserved for books. Too many books.
Better too many than too few. Because I never know what mood I'll be in. I might want to wander in the dark Canadian forests and secret attics of Robertson Davies' What's Bred in the Bone (Penguin Books). Or, I might need to feel the kiss of Spanish on my lips. For that I have 500,000 Azaleas by Efrain Huerta (Curbstone). In "Song," he writes: "The moon has a house/but the little black girl doesn't/the little black girl in Alabama."

In bed I often think of my grandma who, each night, prayed the rosary. I know one of these days I'll take up the tradition. But for now, instead of moving into sleep bead by bead, I move reverently, word by word. Thankfully, I have come across a wonderful new companion for my nightly practice called The Defiant Muse: Vietnamese Feminist Poems from Antiquity to the Present (edited by Nguyen Thi Minn Ha, Nguyen Thi Thanh Binh and Lady Borton).

Here, thanks to Feminist Press, we sample 2,000 years of a literature of lamentation and resistance to foreign occupation. We learn that the first heroes in the country's recorded history are women warriors who used poetry to command and encourage. In 40 C.E.,Trung Trac unsheathes her sword and recites her "Oath at Hat River, a quatrain in six-eight meter. "First pledge: Wash away the enemy," she declares.

I was surprised to learn that Vietnam has 54 ethnic groups; then again, why would our government want us to know anything about the rich cultures of a country we intend to bomb back to the "stone age."

It is never a good idea to lose heart and hope as you are preparing to sleep. So I turn to Alice Walker's Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer's Activism (Random House), which speaks of the many people engaged in the sacred and political work of "de-colonizing" our spirits. We certainly have many elders. Alice included, to lead us on that path.

Grace Paley and her husband, Bob Nichols, for example. Feminist Press recently released a book that features their fiction and poetry together, called Here and Somewhere Else.

Grace passed away in August. I was blessed to see her in June, at the annual writing workshop at the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences (U.Mass., Boston). It was my honor to help search for, of all things, her hearing aid which was lost in the sizable house the faculty stayed in. Thanks to Lady Borton's persistent questioning, Grace realized she felt something funny in her shoe. Yes, there it was. Hearing aids are small nowadays; remember that and remember, above all, to listen as deeply as Grace did, who then turned around and became, as she said, a "story talker," stories that she then wrote down.

Fewer people are familiar with her husband Bob's work. It's superb both for its formal experimentation and for the manner in which he can wrap his mind around the ways that the planet and its peoples are getting skewered by capitalism run amuck, disaster capitalism, as Naomi Klein writes about.

Imagine being part of a group of women that decides it will take over an unused building with the dream of starting a women's shelter, food-coop, a clothing and book exchange and more?

Poet and philosopher Susan Sherman was one of those involved in the 5th St. Women's Building Action, a story we read about in her just released America's Child: A Woman's Journey through the Radical Sixties. Imagine compiling an FBI record for engaging in that most American of activities: dissent. The book (Curbstone) takes us into the heart of the Lower East Side at a time when poets are beginning to feel they must write about the great events of the day, and that they must act, too: opposing the Vietnam War, visiting Cuba, Nicaragua, founding radical magazines, as did Susan, with IKON, a venue for sharing ideas and visions. Big dreams for a time that demanded it.

Those times have come again. Together let's read and dream, rest and wake up--ready to act.

Bio Note:
Demetria Martinez, author of Confessions of a Berlitz-Tape Chicana (essays, (University of Ok. Press)

Novelist Charles Johnson just sent me the latest issue of The International Review of African American Art. This issue is about artists who have looked East for inspiration and knowledge. Johnson has the opening essay, The Dharma and the Artist Eye. I told him this evening that the journal looks fresh and uplifting. I can see Giovanni Singleton getting her hands on this baby and not wanting to let go. I'm going to steal about an hour or two and read some of the contributions.

Tuesday evening I'm going down to the DCJCC and listen to Walter Isaacson talk about Albert Einstein. Isaacson is the author of EINSTEIN: HIS LIFE AND UNIVERSE. I exchanged an email with him earlier in the year. I hope he will come and give a talk at IPS. Isaacson is the President and CEO of The Aspen Institute.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Should I be a Monday morning QB?
No need. Look at "Bert's Picks" yesterday. Yep. I told you to take Green Bay, New England and New Orleans.

BTW - if New England can find 48 points against Dallas, look for them to hit over 50 against Washington. The Washington secondary is really not that good. Nothing but hype. Oh, and wait for Dallas to play Washington. Campbell will be sacked 5-6 times. 2 fumbles.

Oh, and take the Cleveland Indians tonight. Just ignore the Chief Wahoo caps.

The people who are in charge of me are happy.

- Alice Notley

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Quote of the Day:

Bad things are happening in countries you shouldn't have to think about. It's all George Bush's fault, the vice president is Satan, and God is gay.

- Maureen Dowd
NY Times OP-ED Sunday, October 14, 2007


- E. Ethelbert Miller
Hey - did you see those Red Sox fans leaving Fenway Park in the 11th evening- early this morning? You just knew the game was over when a certain relief pitcher came in. Why mention his name in the E-Notes. You know his first name begins with E. I like the Indians without the silly Wahoo caps. I love Manny on the Red Sox. The boy can hit like he was from the Bronx.
But how many of us will watch the World Series if Arizona is in it? The Rockies have Coors. I can sip a game or two and watch them play. I'm certain the power people want the Red Sox to advance. Manny and Papi is always a good show. One can name a few Red Sox players - who are those guys west of the Mississippi?
Nothing but football for me today. Must games to see:

Washington and Green Bay
New England and Dallas
New Orleans and Seattle

Bert's Picks: Green Bay, New England, New Orleans.
There is a Jimmy coming to the screen. Director Jonathan Demme is releasing the film Jimmy Carter Man From Plains later this month. It follows Carter on book tour after the publication of the controversial PALESTINE: PEACE NOT APARTHEID.
Why do folks still listen to the critic Harold Bloom? Why must we drink his piss in order to understand what water tastes like?
Quote of the Day:

Does political correctness have a good side? Yes, it does, for it makes us re-examine attitudes, and that is always useful.

- Doris Lessing
There is an excellent essay about Marion Jones by Robin Givhan in the Washington Post today.
Don't miss. See the Style & Arts section.

I believe there is the reality beyond what we can see. I don't think we are the end of it all. That this time or this place is all there is...
There are things we think we know that we don't know. I think there is a mystery to life in general. There are a lot larger questions that art tries to address.

- Edwidge Danticat

Saturday, October 13, 2007

October delight. I love days like this. A Saturday of course. In the 1960s, my brother and I would take the subway down to Greenwich Village. Our day would be spent in and out of bookstores and record shops. We had just enough cash for maybe 1 book and 1 record, so the fun was in deciding want to put back. A big brother is special because they always put your stuff on the counter first.

I met my friend Katja at DuPont Circle (around 10 AM) and we went to a nearby restaurant for breakfast. It was great talking with Katja about culture, history and cool stuff. After the meal we walked over to the Melody Record Shop (1623 Connecticut Avenue). Ah- this is the place to spend a Saturday but these types of Saturdays will become extinct soon. Melody from another era. I purchased a Blue Note. Dexter Gordon's OUR MAN IN PARIS.

Saying good-bye to Katja on the train at Metro Center, I went out into the street and caught the S4. Waiting for the bus was Helen an old friend and arts collector who talked my head silly until
it was my stop. Whew. Arriving home, my son (down from college for the day) pulled the basketball from under his bed and we walked over to the park.

How long ago was it that we were making up games inside our heads? Laughing and talking trash. You suddenly realize how old you are simply by watching your son hitting shot after shot. The best you can do is catch the ball when it drops from the net. Still you feel good and you might not feel better tomorrow. We stay in the park enough to sweat and talk about the upcoming season. We leave the park, two men walking home together.

Now it's time for errands. Shirts to the cleaners on Georgia Avenue where I run into Verta Mae who once again is carrying bags filled with food. I holler that "I'm the Pork Patrol!"
We talk for a few minutes- she doing much of it. Stories filled with sadness and you realize the city is changing and not in good way. Another reason why I was happy that I had a big brother -but where are my brothers now? Is the sun going down? Who owns the air in October?
Saturday can be so lonely without Sunday.
Just show Gore the love, don't encourage him to run for president. We should keep the focus on issues and not personalities. This is so difficult. Folks are writing about Hillary's laugh and not about the problems of poverty in our society. Since we've had an Iraqi benchmark, no one seems to be paying attention to what seems to be a recent increase in bombings in that nation.
It's important that we don't let the media and special interest groups select the next president.
This is not American Idol. Hey -where did OJ go? Now that's a guy running...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hollywood's State of The Union:

An important blog operated by screenwriter Craig Mazin. Support Writer's Rights.

I felt no argument with any part of my life.

- Jane Hirshfield

A Lessing in Living?

I just pulled A SMALL PERSONAL VOICE by Doris Lessing off the shelf. This is a quick quide into her thinking; it's a book of essays reviews and interviews. It was published by in 1974 by Random House (Vintage paperback).
Noose on the loose?
Look for this tactic to play out over the next few months. Pranks by folks who have no regard for history. Didn't we have white kids painting their faces with burnt cork just the other day? What's next? A white student sells his black roommate because of a lack of financial aid? Do you remember the 2 white students and the pranks they played in the movie Soul Man? Nothing but a rerun, but will it play in Jena?
Kara Walker:

The Whitney Museum of American Art: Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love

There was a nice profile of Walker in The New Yorker. Was that just 2 issues ago? I first saw her work in Minneapolis. Walker's work will place a historical hood on your head. A needed fit if we are to confront ourselves in a "bag" or mirror.

If you're taking care of an elderly parent be sure to read "Caring for the Caregiver" by Sheree Crute in the latest issue (November/December 2007) of AARP magazine. This is the issue with Morgan Freeman on the cover. In the article there is a reference to Barry Jacobs. He is the author of The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers: Looking After Yourself and Your Family While Helping an Aging Parent (Guilford, 2006). Jacobs is a clinical psychologist in Springfield, Pennsylvania. This sounds like a book many of us should order.

Why is Alan Keyes running for president?
Is this guy a Black Taliban? Geez.